Reporting on an annual basis: for developer and investor Alides it does not suffice. In addition to annual figures, they also want to be able to follow the results per project and per building. Until recently, they made do with their two accounting packages and a handful of Excel sheets. However, as the company began to grow strongly, the demand for an efficient reporting solution became greater than ever.
“Getting clarity in the figures. That was our biggest need when we went looking for a financial reporting tool”, starts Thomas De Moor, financial controller. “Because we are both investor and developer, we work with two accounting packages, which evolve at different speeds. Moreover, Alides consists of some 25 companies. Until recently, we mainly used Excel for reporting. Information from the two accounting packages was followed up in separate sheets. There was hardly an overall picture, except for one large consolidation exercise per year. This had to change: we wanted to have the figures available quickly. On the advice of our IT provider, we contacted BrightAnalytics, and after a demo of the tool, we immediately decided to go for it.”
Today, BrightAnalytics not only produces a financial report with the annual results per company, but also a property report per building and a project report. “The latter helps us to track the budget of new developments,” Thomas continues. “A development project often involves several companies, and the lead time is usually several years. Alides has grown tremendously recently and we continue to grow. That is why good, efficient project monitoring has become essential. BrightAnalytics gives us insight into the results and budgets per year, but also into the project budgets, for which we let go of the notion of time a little. With a few clicks, our financial results are converted into operational property reporting.”
The greatest added value of BrightAnalytics, according to Thomas and his colleague Liselot Van Campe (also financial controller), is that all this information is available on a single platform. ” We can view and monitor all development companies as well as all operating companies in one place, “ explains Liselot. “And we can do so at a more detailed level than before. As a result, we spend a lot less time producing figures, and we have a lot more time to analyze them. Per quarter, this translates into a number of days of time saved, not to mention the much lower risk of errors. Today, the information flows out of the system. As soon as the booking is made, you see it in the reporting. Before, we had to wait up to ten minutes before the project report was compiled, whereas now it’s on the screen in a fraction of a second.”
With the growth of the company, Alides regularly adds new companies, while others disappear. How does this match up with BrightAnalytics? “At such a time, a brief intervention from BrightAnalytics is needed,” says Thomas. “That has always gone very smoothly, however. The big advantage is that they can link with many systems very quickly. For example, we work with the cloud-based Business Central on the one hand, and with Netika on the other, which does not run in the cloud. Two totally different packages, and yet BrightAnalytics manages to capture all that information in a single image.”
Moreover, because a fixed pattern is used for reporting, there is uniformity in the way the company deals with figures. “As a financial manager, specific access rights give you control over who gets to see what numbers. Moreover, those users can consult, but not modify. The flexibility of Excel to change fields or formulas yourself is not there, and that is an advantage. IT illiterates can quickly get started with the tool as well”, says Liselot.
In the meantime, the company is gradually discovering all kinds of other reporting possibilities. “We had a lot mapped out beforehand, but now that we are working in the new package, we are discovering what else is possible. Our management and the board of directors are increasingly asking for figures and they want them more quickly. If we don’t immediately know how to tackle something, BrightAnalytics will sit at the drawing board and suggest how we can solve it. That’s great: they think along with us,” says Thomas.
Thomas and Liselot think the cooperation is going well. “They are very quick to respond, and we can always reach someone. If our contact person cannot help us, we are told that they will come back to us – and they do so effectively. It is not a situation where you take a number and then just have to wait and see, which is common in IT. They know what they want, what they can do, communicate about it very openly, and are always willing to think along. That’s a real strength. And it’s not as if their account starts running every time I pick up the phone. There is no question of an hourly bill. Thank goodness for that.”